A man in his sixties was gored to death on Sunday during local fiestas in Cuéllar (Segovia), bringing the number of bull-related fatalities this summer to 12, the highest in the last 15 years.
The surgeon at the town bullring confirmed that a bull ran its horn through the heart of J.M.R.B., a resident of the Basque municipality of Rentería who was in Cuéllar with his wife.
Following a tradition in many Spanish towns, local authorities had allowed the bulls due to be fought in the ring later that day to run through the streets for a few minutes along a pre-defined route. Spain’s most famous bull runs take place in Pamplona every July during the Sanfermines.
We have been condemning these festivities for years, because they involve an implicit violence that endangers people and animals”
Silvia Barquero, president PACMA
But even local officials admit that the spot where J. M. R. B. was killed – known unofficially as “the funnel” – is “very dangerous.”
“At this spot, there are only demarcation fences, but no protection fences,” explained a poster displayed in town by the Cuéllar Bull Run Association. “The bull run was a complicated one, with a lot of people on horseback and others on foot, including quite a few children.”
The goring occurred at the spot where the bulls move from the country into the town proper. “Despite the danger there, you routinely see older people and children who are not physically prepared,” said the association.
While not completely uncommon, the number of bull-related deaths at Spain’s municipal fiestas has peaked this summer. Up until Sunday’s incident, 11 people have died as a result of being gored this year while another man sustained fatal head injuries after falling down when he was running from a bull.
The death toll has fueled ongoing demands by animal rights groups to end all bull-related events at local fiestas, where the animals are sometimes submitted to practices such as having firecrackers attached to their horns or being pushed into the sea for a few minutes.
“We have been condemning these festivities for years, because they involve an implicit violence that endangers people and animals,” said Silvia Barquero, the head of PACMA, a political party that lobbies against cruelty to animals, two weeks ago.
Her statements came right after Civil Guard officers shot a bull in the middle of the street in Coria (Cáceres), after considering that the run was becoming too dangerous.
Although new leftist governments opposed to bullfighting have taken office across Spain after the May municipal elections, their disapproval often does not extend to bull-related events at local festivities. Last year, there were 15,848 street events involving bulls, 2,000 more than in 2013, according to figures released by the Culture Ministry.
This 15-percent rise has been supported chiefly by the conservative Popular Party (PP) in the Valencia region. But the new leftist regional administration that has emerged in the wake of the May elections has failed to express any desire to curtail bull fests, citing their great popularity.
English version by Susana Urra